Bouchard’s View Of Canadian History Essay, Research Paper

Lucien Bouchard is one of Canada’s most interesting politicians. Born in the 1930s to a rural town in Quebec, Bouchard rose to become Quebec’s present premier. Most federalists have characterized Bouchard as an enemy of Canada but it is important to recognize the events that shaped the political figure we see today. Bouchard’s version of Canadian history was based on his experiences living in an isolated area ruled by Anglophones, his education, the nationalism of his homeland and the influences of many sovereigntists. His version differs considerably from the federalist perspective and sometimes even the history books. However, the fact remains that a fire burns within this charismatic leader to lead his province to the future of sovereignty he desperately believes is the only solution for the emancipation of Quebec.

It is often believed that a person is most often a reflection of their environment, this true for Lucien Bouchard.. Lucien grew up in the town of Jonquiere in the northern part of Quebec. It was a small, poor Francophone town virtually cut off from the rest of Quebec and Canada by the Laurentian Mountains. Bouchard grew up in a family of five children in a strict french catholic household. Their family was relatively poor, as were most of the Francophones in the area. Philippe Bouchard, Lucien’s father, worked fourteen hour days delivering lumber. When the boys were old enough, they too had to work to support the family. One summer, Lucien was sent to the labour camps in the Laurentides forests. The camps were owned and operated by the English who ruled the major industries in the Saguenay. This was Lucien’s first real taste of the division between the English and the French. Bouchard was a young intellectual who had already developed a strong sense of pride and at the labour camps he was forced to work with “bums, tough guys who beat me, threw knives.” (Martin, 1997). The humiliation was almost more than he could handle. The English did not have to work in such conditions because they were the bosses. They made up only two per cent of the Saguenay – Lac -Saint- Jean region but they controlled one hundred per cent of the industry.

After the labour camps, Lucien had a heightened awareness of how the other side lived. Lucien would travel with his father sometimes delivering lumber to the next town over of Arvida. The Anglophones in Arvida saw the french as inferior to themselves and took pride in the fact that most did not speak french even though they had lived there for years. However, for young boys like Lucien they had to speak some English in order to get a job. Arvida was a housing seetlement for those that worked for Alcan, the aluminum company. Alcan owned all of the houses and it was clear that no Francophone could rent in the better districts even if they could pay. “The Anglos considered the French to be second class citizens, like Negroes in the south.” commented Joan Bell , who lived in the town.(Martin, 1997) Lucien’s memory of this segregation would influence him greatly in his life choices. “Very early in my life,” Lucien would later say, “money and authority were English.” These factors, he realized, were a major part of the nationalism in the area that would surface.

Lucien grew up in an area of isolation from the rest of the world, an area with a different history and a different sense of themselves. The Kingdom of the Saguenay, as it is called, was separated from the rest of Quebec by the natural barriers of the mountains to the south, the St. Lawrence to the east and the Lac Saint Jean to the west. When Jacques Cartier arrived and claimed the land for France he joined with the natives to establish a fur trade. For two hundred years the fur trade prospered on the condition that settlers would stay away. However, in 1842, the Hudson Bay Company lease would only be renewed if settlers would be allowed to enter the kingdom. They migration of the french to this new and magical land was seen as a “birth of a holy land.” When the french lost to the English in the 1837 rebellions many Quebeckers believed that their dream of a new French republic had died. Although, when they saw the settlements spreading it was viewed as a chance to start again. The kingdom of the Saguenay offered many the renewed hope of a new all French republic that they had always dreamed of. Among its first settlers were Lucien’s grandparents.

The new settlers had visions of great economic prosperity for themselves because of the natural resources and the large seaport of the St. Lawrence. Unfortunately this envisioned Mecca came under control of an English business man, William Price. From the middle of the nineteenth century, Price developed a pulp and paper monopoly that ruled the region with the consent of the government. The French found themselves without the help of government services and programs. Politicians were associated only with helping Price or favouring the minority English over the overwhelming majority of French. Thus, a feeling of independence grew within the French in the kingdom. They believed their fate was in their own hands as they were separated from the rest of Canada and received no help from it anyway. The people felt that they did not want or need the government.

The education Lucien received at college in Jonquiere was also a major factor in shaping his views of history. Bouchard would comment later, the history of Canada was taught from only one perspective: the English were bad and the french were good. Classes focused only on New France up until the loss against the English on the Plains of Abraham. This era in time was revered as a golden age. The French were doing well and converting the good natives: those who supported the French. The rest of Canada was considered another country, one they knew nothing about. “We were terribly ignorant of English Canada” Bouchard remarked to Jeffrey Simpson.(Simpson, 1993). The students learned the history of France, Germany, the United States, Greece but not their own. “What happened in the rest of confederation, we didn’t know.” The teachers impressed upon their students that Great Britain was a land to be despised whereas the USA was held in high regard because it successfully rebelled against the British. (Simpson, 1993)

While the past was revered in class and at home, present day politics were not discussed much. The teachers at school did not criticize Duplessis or the Union Nationale because it was paying the freight. His parents were devout supporters of the Duplessis regime and accepted their Anglo ruled economy as a fact of life. Phillipe Bouchard told his sons with awe that Duplessis was the one who brought electricity to their region. His sons and many other students, however, were developing a critical view of Duplessis, believing him to be corrupt and anti modern. In 1957, Bouchard wrote an article in his student newspaper promoting bilingualism and the active participation of Quebec, with Canada, to build their country. “Our beautiful country at the dawn of an extraordinary prosperity requires the collective efforts of all its citizens, and bilingualism could well turn out to be one of the better means of realizing this new unity between the two races, so necessary to our future expansion.” (Bouchard, 1957) Lucien, only 19 at the time, believed that the only way to join the elites of the two races was through bilingualism. He reasoned that more English classes in Quebec could be used as a tool in building a strong French economy and thereby ensuring the preservation of their french culture. In direct opposition to the Duplessis philosophy, Lucien wrote that Quebec should work with English Canada ” not via interminable debates but by tangible achievement: an active contribution to the development of Canada.” (Bouchard, 1957) The young student said that a policy of isolationism in Quebec could not work because the population was too small. Moreover, such a policy would “inhibit the efforts of almost five million French Canadians in the contribution to the building of a big and great Canada.”(Bouchard, 1957) This article would indicate clearly that sovereignty was not on the mind of this student, yet.

At the age of twenty, Lucien decided to go to school at Laval in Quebec city. This would be only his second trip out of the Saguenay. His days in the big city made him see how backwards the Duplessis government really were. Lucien was now among an atmosphere that was talking about change and new ideas. His brothers were trying to persuade Lucien that the English and the Union Nationale were responsible for Quebec’s lack of modernization. Roch and Claude, his brother’s, had chosen to attend school in Ottawa and they were outraged that the federal government conducted business only in English. They were further infuriated when they visited Montreal and saw only English signs. “The province that was their’s was covered in the language of outsiders. Language was culture, and their language was hidden.”(Martin, 1997) Their visit to Montreal was enough to make Roch and Claude join the sovereignty movement. They saw the idea of confederation that they had been taught in school to be nonexistent. They were taught that the French became Canadians in 1608 and the English became Canadian after the British conquest and the Quebec Act; confederation of 1867 was a result of these two peoples joining together to make one big country. However, in the 1960s the Bouchards felt that English Canada had discarded the French as an equal partner to make them just another province. The conclusion that they arrived at was that Quebec had to be legally recognized as one half of the duality that founded Canada, if not, then sovereignty was the only option. Lucien’s brothers tried to convince Lucien to take a strong position on sovereignty but Lucien only listened, unprepared to make a decision at that time.

Aside from his brothers, Lucien also fell under the influence of radicals such as Andre Tremblay and Denis de Belleval. Tremblay was a member of the FLQ and de Belleval was a strong supporter of Rene Levesque. The result of such influences was clear in 1961 when Lucien began writing articles quite different from those he had written in Jonquiere. One of his articles titled “Separatism – Two Versions” describes how separatism need not be decided right now but if Quebec threatened to separate the rest of Canada would be forced to concede to the wishes of Quebec. Lucien coined this strategy ” Rapports Des Forces”. “Demands by Quebec would create a state of tension. Fearing that french Canadians will create a separate state , there is no doubt that Canadians at large will do what is necessary to keep them in the family, giving them what they’ve demanded for so long: the respect of their provincial autonomy, their language and a greater participation in the economic and political direction of the country.”(Bouchard,1961) In another article titled “The Phantom Nation” Lucien describes the lack of a national conscience because the English know nothing of the french and the french know nothing of the English. “Why maintain hope in a communion between the English and the French Canadians when most of their relation consist of a mix-up grievances, pressures and frictions – if not open hostility.”(Bouchard, 1961) On the other hand, Lucien realized he could not blame the English for all of the problems of Quebec. He believed that Quebec had isolated itself instead of taking on economic and cultural ventures. As a result, a certain amount of fear and dislike for anything not French became apparent. Bouchard believed that this xenophobia had to be crushed by forcing themselves on the rest of Canada to make their presence known instead of avoiding it. To accomplish this, Quebec needed great idealists and leaders to persuade Quebeckers to imagine what life could be like as a strong nation.

Later as Lucien was beginning his law career, he believed he found one of those idealists he spoke of: Pierre Trudeau. Lucien was impressed by Trudeau’s background as a lawyer, editor of the journal “Cite libre” but most importantly his open condemnation of Duplessis. Lucien was also interested in the Liberal party at the federal and provincial levels. He supported Lesage’s reforms in education, secularization and the nationalization of Quebec hydro. At the federal level, Lucien was impressed with Lester Pearson because he believed Pearson was receptive to the needs of Quebec. Lucien believed this was demonstrated by giving importance to Quebec ministers in the cabinet, creating the Royal Commission of Bilingualism and Biculturalism, and allowing Quebec to have control over its own pension plan. Therefore, with these great Quebeckers in Ottawa, Lucien believed English Canada would finally see “what extraordinary people we can produce.” (Martin, 1997)

In 1970 Bouchard became an active member for the liberal party by campaigning for Robert Bourassa. However, the next year Lucien took a pilgrimage to Greece and upon his return he declared his intentions to become an independiste with the Parti Quebecois and Rene Levesque. Lucien described his trip to Greece as an awakening of sorts. As a child he had always been mesmerized by the ancient Greek heroes and civilizations. As an adult Lucien was filled with awe that the people of such a small country could play such a huge part in the future of the entire world. “His soul was awakened, he concluded that this was a dream to follow.”(Martin, 1997) Bouchard explained to the partners at his law firm that he could no longer support the liberals because of Trudeau’s actions during the October crisis of 1970. Lucien believed Trudeau acted in an undemocratic fashion and with unnecessary force by enacting the War Measures Act. “I realized that Trudeau was not in Ottawa to bring about the blossoming of Quebec. He was there to screw us.” From his decisions of the October crisis, Trudeau “revealed once and for all, with a persistence that bordered on provocation , his determination to keep Quebec a province, a simple module.”(Vastel, 1996) Thus, with Lucien’s disgust with Trudeau, the pressure from his brother’s, his experience in Greece and his conception of history in the Saguenay, Bouchard denounced the Liberals and signed his membership card for the Parti Quebecois.

Bouchard worked hard for the PQ and was taken under the wing of Rene Levesque. Levesque saw the fire of nationalism burning in Bouchard and believed he had a political future with the PQ. In 1980 Trudeau proposed a plan to repatriate the constitution but failing to reach a consensus with the province he decided to go ahead anyway, much to the outrage of the premiers. Trudeau wanted a Charter of Rights and Freedoms which secured minority language rights. Quebec was not in favour of such a charter because it would nullify bill 101, the language law that made french the official language of business in Quebec. Quebec challenged Trudeau’s plan in the Quebec court of appeals with Bouchard as one of four lawyers selected to argue against the repatriation. In the spring of 1981 a decision had yet to be reached and Levesque was reelected. The PQ now found themselves in an interesting position. The people of Quebec supported Trudeau on the federal level but they also supported Levesque on the provincial level, two opposing idealogies. Commenting on the election, Bouchard said that these dynamics just could not work. “A party that had tried to destroy’ Canada held little credibility in negotiating seriously or repelling the federal offensive. The Parti Quebecois existed for the sake of Quebec independence. It was not at ease in this new role that went against its very nature: negotiating the renewal of Canadian federalism.” (Bouchard, 1994)

Levesque joined with seven other premiers who were unsatisfied with Trudeau’s formula to form the Gang of Eight. Levesque believed that if he teamed with the other provinces Trudeau would back down or be forced to sign an agreement that was acceptable to Quebec. By November of 1981 it appeared that no compromise on the repatriation plan was possible so Trudeau proposed to bypass the premiers and hold a referendum. Levesque was in favour of a referendum but the other premiers were not as confidant. In a late night meeting the seven premiers signed an agreement that accepted the Charter of Rights in exchange for their amending formula without the knowledge of Levesque. Bouchard, along with many others, was furious and labelled that it “the night of the long knives.” He believed the other premiers, with Cretien as the leader, conspired against Quebec. Aside from the minority language rights, the financial compensation clause had been removed and job creation programs in Quebec would be obstructed by labour mobility clauses. Levesque refused to sign the new agreement and Quebec is still today bound by a charter it never signed. For Bouchard, the night of the long knives was a turning point. “It was the key event triggering all that happened and will happen , the breach through which Quebecois democracy will escape from a regime that violated its moral commitments.”(Bouchard, 1994)

In 1984 Bouchard’s law school chum, Brian Mulroney, became prime minister. Mulroney and Bouchard had shared a special relationship at Laval but they also worked together on the highly publicized Cliche commission that investigated labour unions. Mulroney wanted the support of the Quebec nationalists, and Bouchard and Levesque saw Mulroney’s conservatives as the best alternative to the liberals. Bouchard set aside his PQ identity to actively support Mulroney and when Mulroney was in power he wanted Bouchard to be Canada’s ambassador in France. As Mulroney’s right hand man, Bouchard turned Mulroney’s attention to the grave injustices of the 1982 repatriation and convinced him to begin make plans to bring Quebec into the constitution. The spring of 1987 brought an agreement between the premiers and the prime minister for a constitutional accord known as the Meech Lake Accord. Quebec laid on the table five conditions that had to be met in order for Quebec to participate in negotiations: recognition of Quebec as a distinct society; participation in the appointment of supreme court judges, a veto for Quebec on constitutional changes, limitations on federal spending powers, and more power for Quebec over immigration. The conditions were agreed upon and the premiers then had three years to ratify the accord. Bouchard emphatically told Quebec’s Minister of Intergovernmental affairs that Bourassa had not demanded enough. Bouchard believed that Quebec was in a position of real negotiating power and it was being wasted. Although, when Bouchard was speaking to Mulroney he raised no doubts and when he returned from France Bouchard actively promoted the accord across Canada.

Bouchard began the new decade of the nineties as the Quebec lieutenant and a member of the top cabinet committees. In addition, Bouchard was trying to sell Meech Lake while trying to keep the Tories happy as well as Quebec nationalists; each group accused him of caving in to the other side. A taxing position for any one but Bouchard refused to take a rest as the pressure mounted. He made it clear that any changes to Meech would be unacceptable and the growing consensus to make changes to satisfy the other provinces infuriated him. Mulroney, however, felt that some compromised had to be reached with the provinces that were gaining support for the rejection of Meech. The main opponents were the liberals of Manitoba and New Brunswick along with Jean Cretien. In a speech in 1990 Cretien announced that he would not support Meech because of the distinct society clause. Bouchard was enraged by this and called Cretien “a constitutional disaster.” In contrast, Mulroney saw Cretien as the key to getting the accord passed. He reasoned that if he could convince Cretien then the other liberals would follow. Thus, Mulroney recruited Stanley Hartt to conduct secret negotiations with the liberals. Bouchard had become the major force in the Quebec caucus and Mulroney could not afford to see him go.

Opposition to Meech was growing everywhere. Frank Mckenna, premier of New Brunswick, wanted to change the wording of the language clause. The original accord read “Ottawa’s responsibility to protect linguistic duality”, Mckenna wanted it changed from “protect” to “promote”. Mulroney agreed to have a parliamentary committee study the suggested amendments. Bouchard could not believe what he was hearing. Bouchard believed that the proposed amendments would change the basis of the accord. In his opinion, the changes would give the federal government the right to interfere with Quebec’s decisions about language. Bouchard felt that Quebec was being humiliated by these negotiations and again ignored in order to please the other English provinces. Amid these crisise, the legislature of Newfoundland announced that they were withdrawing their support of Meech lake. Commenting on the decision in Newfoundland, Bouchard stated that Canada may find itself in a position where it has to choose between Newfoundland and Quebec. He reasoned that Quebec was more important to Canada than Newfoundland . His comments earned Bouchard some nasty comments from Brian Tobin, a liberal MP from Newfoundland, in the House of Commons. Several others criticized him as well, saying he was not fit for office and demanded his resignation. Bouchard reached a height of frustration because the English simply did not understand him or Quebec. “Don’t ask us to forget that we are Quebeckers. Don’t ask us to forget that we are from a society whose survival is in constant struggle.” (La Presse, 1990) Bouchard was not doing well on all sides. Meech Lake was losing strength, his direct influence with Mulroney was waning, and his green plan as environmental minister was losing. Amidst these events, the PQ saw an opportunity to gain strength by exploiting the rifts developing among the Tories because of Meech lake. Secret meetings were arranged in which the topic of forming a federal brach of the PQ – a bloc in Ottawa made up of many of those defecting Tories. Bouchard was now at a crossroads: should he continue with the Tories or defect to the PQ?

Two events would prove to seal Bouchard’s loyalty to the PQ: the Charest report on Meech Lake and the anniversary of the referendum in 1980. The Charest report was put together to make alterations in the original Meech Lake Accord to satisfy the other provinces who were not fully convinced. When Bouchard received the final report he was in France. He deemed the changes in language clauses and others to be unacceptable. It was becoming clear to Bouchard that he could not, in good conscience, remain with the Tories. After reading the report Bouchard faxed a telex directly to Cliche who would read it at the PQ celebration of the anniversary of the referendum. The telex, in defiance of the prime ministers office, endorsed Quebec’s right to self determination. “The commemorandum of the referendum offers another opportunity of the YES we defended at the time, around Renee Levesque and his team. Rene Levesque’s memory will unite us all this weekend. He was the one who led the Quebecois to realize they had the inalienable right to decide their own destiny.”(Martin, 1997) The decision to switch over to the sovereignty side appealed to Bouchard for many reasons. With the telex he had affirmed his sovereignty position that was greeted with support in Quebec as the sovereignty option was gaining popularity in Quebec polls.

On may 21 1990, Bouchard handed his resignation to Mulroney, ending a thirty year friendship. When the resignation was formally tabled in the house of commons Bouchard began by saying “I felt that in read reading the accord the first time that Quebec had managed to overcome its humiliation and just indignation… I felt we had to leave the ghetto of frustration to which we were confined by the arrogant structure of Mr. Trudeau. And I felt that this was an occasion to turn the page from the bitterness of the past…”(Bouchard, 1990) Bouchard concluded that the Charest report was evidence that the rest of Canada was trying to humiliate Quebec again. With that, Bouchard announced that he would sit as an independent member in parliament.

Although many of his former associates at the federal level felt Bouchard was a traitor, the nationalists in Quebec felt they had a new hero. In his first public address after his resignation, Bouchard was greeted with much excitement and thundering support. He called for union of Parizeau, Bourassa and all Quebeckers to create a new future. He again spoke of his plan to use the promotion of sovereignty in Ottawa to force the government to give in to their demands. He cried out for Quebec to take a strong position against its oppressor to get achieve their goals. Bouchard could not have been more pleased with his reception as the sovereignty option grew in popularity again. However, twenty days after his resignation a wrench was thrown into his plans: Mulroney had reached deal with all the provinces on the Meech lake accord. Much to his relief, two weeks later the deal fell through when Newfoundland and Manitoba refused to cooperate. Bouchard proceeded to use Meech as a basis for a platform that English Canada was not capable of reaching a consensus that would satisfy Quebec and so the time had come to take charge of the situation. Bouchard criticized the new Meech deal as lacking in affirmation of Quebec as a distinct society, he was opposed to an equal senate and was enraged that a decision from Newfoundland had to be awaited . With the collapse of Meech, Bouchard devoted himself fully to the sovereignty option.

In the house of commons, five other Tories sat with Bouchard as an independent. As the most popular Quebec figure in Ottawa, he was named the leader of their small group known as the Forum-Quebec. Bourassa also recognized Bouchard’s popularity and appointed him to the Campeau-Belanger Commission that would report on Quebec’s future. Many of the other members of the forum Quebec worked on the commission so Bouchard was thrilled. He said “The Belanger-Campeau Commission was a bigger, better Forum- Quebec financed by the state.”(Bouchard, 1994) The commission worked to reach an agreement that a referendum should be called by the fall of 1992 on the question of secession. Although, if a new constitutional deal was presented from the federal government it would have to be considered before a referendum.

Mulroney took advantage of the aforementioned loophole by offering Quebec a new set of constitutional proposals similar to Meech lake, soon to be called the Charlottetown accord. A national referendum would be held but if it lost in Quebec no changes would be forced upon them. Bouchard was not impressed. He believed that Mulroney was conspiring with Cretien, his nemesis, to force unwanted constitutional change in Quebec. Bouchard flatly refused the new accord, stating that it was not even parallel to Meech. His protests were similar to his earlier problems with Meech. In his opinion, the distinct society clause was too ambiguous, the equal senate was not acceptable, and the areas the federal government promised to retreat from were already under provincial control according the British North America act. Nevertheless, in October in 1992 Bourassa called a referendum on the new constitutional deal. Bouchard was furious, calling it a “desecration of democracy.”(Martin, 1997) Everyone was not satisfied with this new document: the other provinces again thought that Quebec was getting too much while the nationalists thought they were not getting enough and were angry with Bourassa’s desperation for an agreement to try to please English Canada. The Charlottetown accord was finally killed by late night phone call from a federalist and constitutional advisor, Andre Tremblay. Tremblay called Diane Wilhemy, deputy minister of constitutional affairs, to express his anger with the negotiations of Charlottetown. He believed that Quebec was not given what it deserved because of Bourassa’s desperate measures. The phone called was recorded by the media and circulated shortly thereafter, unofficially ending the Charlottetown accord. Officially, the accord died on October 26, 1992. Bouchard now believed the time was right for serious action. A federal election was on the horizon and he saw it as a great opportunity because the Tories were sure to fall, leaving room for the federal sovereign party, now called the Bloc Quebecois, to hold a real position of power with Bouchard at the helm.

The next year the Bloc Quebecois won fifty four seats and the Tories won one. The Bloc was now the official opposition in Ottawa. Bouchard savoured his position as leader of the opposition and made his intentions of sovereignty clear in the House of Commons. “It was inevitable that these old walls would one day hear the speech of members who would never compromise Quebec’s interest in Ottawa.”(Bouchard, 1993) At home in Quebec the next year, Parizeau barely won a provincial election for the PQ to become the new premier. Parizeau was a hardline separatist who could not appeal to all aspects of the population. In contrast Bouchard appealed to more a more diverse range of Quebeckers because his position of sovereignty was somewhere in the middle. The math was clear, the more appeal the more votes for sovereignty. Consequently, Bouchard found himself in an advantageous position. If Parizeau succeeded in the referendum their goal of sovereignty would be achieved but if not, Parizeau would fall leaving room for Bouchard to fulfill his dreams of become premier of Quebec.

Sadly, Bouchard became afflicted with flesh eating disease and flirted with death for a while. He survived but had his leg amputated. In an almost morbid fashion, the illness had raised Bouchards popularity to become the most loved politician in Quebec. To many Quebeckers he represented the spirit of Quebec: he had been on the verge of death but refused to die, just like Quebec nationalism. Barely out of the hospital, Bouchard decided to take matters into his own hands concerning the upcoming referendum. At a convention of the Bloc Quebecois, Bouchard called for a change in Parizeau strategy of the referendum. Bouchard advocated a situation of association with Canada similar to the European union and a longer wait for the referendum because the polls showed the sovereignty on the losing end. Parizeau conceded to Bouchard and signed an agreement in 1995 that called for political and economic partnership along with sovereignty on the ballot of the approaching referendum. After a YES vote, Ottawa would have one year to decide and if no agreement could be reached Quebec would declare unilateral independence. With Bouchard clearly dominating, he joined Parizeau and the Action Democratique to lead the referendum campaign.

The campaign for sovereignty was not doing well in Quebec due to the lack of spirit. Parizeau finally agreed to let Bouchard take over the negotiations with Ottawa in order to raise the support of voters. The people of Quebec regarded Bouchard as an untouchable crusader after his bout with flesh eating disease and scorned those who attempted to discount him. His presence and enthusiasm quickly showed in the polls. Bouchard tried to calm those who feared breaking with Canada, convincing them that relations with Canada would remain friendly. A YES vote, he said, would bring about a new solidarity in Quebec. “The day after sovereignty there will be no more federalists, no more sovereigntists. There will only be Quebeckers.”(Martin, 1997) Bouchard went on to say that there would be no economic problems. According to Bouchard, sovereignty would mean great profits because the people of Quebec could then have control of their own money and industry. Bouchard’s recognized that they key to winning a referendum rested in the emotions of Quebeckers. He would light the fires of anger against the federal government. He would appeal to the sense of pride in Quebeckers to stand up and fight for their own destiny. His efforts proved fruitful and with only one week to go before the vote, sovereignty was leading the polls.

An effort to move federalism back in the lead was organized by Sheila Copps and Brian Tobin. A pilgrimage to Montreal by Canadians from all parts of the country convened in Montreal to persuade Quebec to stay within Canada. Bus and air fares were reduced, federal employees had the day off in order to attend the rally. The sovereigntists were not impressed. “Friday, two days before the vote, they have come to say they love us. But where they in 1982 when they repatriated the constitution and where were they when Meech went down.”

The results of the referendum were in favour f the NO side by less than one percentage point. Bouchard relayed his regret but emphasized that a democratic decision must be respected. However, two events followed the defeat that led to Bouchard’s personal victory. The first event was the reaction in the media outside Quebec. There was no victory parties for the federalists because the nation had realized that the government had come so close to losing a province. Despite the NO win, there was an air of defeat. The second event came from Parizeau’s big mouth after having a few drinks. Parizeau was furious with the results and insisted “money and the ethnic vote” were the reasons behind the loss. His comments were cause for serious protest. If Parizeau had any hope of remaining premier, his careless statement sealed his fate. The next day he announced his resignation and the people of Quebec were not sad to see him go, they wanted Bouchard as their leader. So defeat ended in victory for Bouchard as his dreams came true. January of 1996 Bouchard was elected premier of Quebec.

Lucien Bouchard remains a complicated and unpredictable politician. He has shocked, enraged and frustrated many with his peculiar allegiances and political decisions. However, one thing has been made painfully clear by Mr. Bouchard: underestimating his ability as a leader would be a grave mistake. Bouchard’s vision of history is not likely to change and to understood the person he is today one must examine Bouchard’s own history. Perhaps, even as politically sadistic Canadians, we even enjoy the excitement that Bouchard brings to politics. However, the history books will tell us in the future if Bouchard has what it takes to lead the french to sovereignty.


Bouchard, Lucien. On the Record. Toronto:Stoddardt, 1994

Bouchard, Lucien. “Notes for a speech on the accasion of the tabling of the formal motion reasserting the right of the Quebec people to self determination”, 1996.

Martin, Lawrence. The Antagonist. Toronto :P enguin Books, 1997


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